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Monthly Archives: April 2016

What lies within

 

Tuesday morning the trail dog and I set out for our first ever solo run into the dark trails. We parked at 0535 and headed east toward the flood wall and eventually made it to the Poop Loop. We scared some kind of animal shortly into the run, maybe a fox? I have no idea since it was too dark. Chevy usually sticks close to me in the dark yet that morning he re-found an animal skull I had thrown into the greenery sometime last week so he’s not scared of the dark when a skull is to be found!

skull

For months I have been working up the courage to run on the dark trails on my own, without anyone else in front of or behind me. Months is not an exaggeration. I have driven to the trailhead only to turn around and go home, waiting to run when there was more light. I’ve hemmed and hawed. I have given myself all sorts of excuses. I have psyched  myself out by imagining all the creatures lurking in the dark. We’re in the heart of the city, the only wildlife lurking are deer, the occasional fox, lots of opossums and raccoons, I have smelled a skunk once or twice and always plenty of spiders. Snakes aren’t as active at night because they’re sleeping somewhere warm, right? That is my logic anyway.

I reminded myself how well I know the trails here; that I can tell you when things have shifted, if a new path has formed, when there is a new tree you’ll have to climb over, etc. I know where every single rock and root are hiding in the dirt.* Then I reminded myself that I haven’t been afraid in the woods when I’m camping or sleeping alone in my tent or that time I slept under a picnic table.

And then I reminded myself I have done these “scary” things and somehow survived.

So.

Fuck fear. It lies.

Fear keeps you compliant. Small. Hidden behind a smoke screen, experiencing life with the sound muted.

The idea of running 10 miles on the road simply because I was allowing fear to stop me from doing what I love most was the motivation I needed to get my ass out there. (Funny thing is I used to be afraid of running solo on the road in the dark, too.) Fear of the dark and what I can’t see in that darkness has been stopping me. Surely something bad is coming when I can’t see what is about to happen, right? So I don’t even try because then I can avoid the anxiety of not knowing.

This is an uncanny metaphoric parallel to how so many of us approach life whether we realize it or not. We allow fear of the unknown to stop us from applying for that job. Or asking that person out on a date. Or moving on to the next great chance. Or signing up for that dance class we’ve been wanting to try. Or allowing ourselves to relax in our relationships. Or asking a friend for a much needed hug. Or (insert your own here). There are so many ‘what ifs’ we talk ourselves out of the possibilities before we give it a chance to prove us wrong.

Doubt feeds into fear and fear is being afraid that what could happen will be bad or uncomfortable. But there’s also a 50/50 chance what might happen will be fantastic and fun. Or you can shift your perspective and tell yourself if it’s uncomfortable, you’re growing. If nothing else, you’ll have a great story to tell others when the time arises.

My general philosophy is if it’s freaking me out, that’s what I need to do.

Which is how Chevy and I found ourselves at the trailhead on Tuesday morning before the sun rose.

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*I know what you are thinking: not enough to keep me from tripping and falling over them, though.

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Posted by on April 28, 2016 in trailrunnergirl, Universe

 

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Snake skin lessons

During a recent conversation with a friend, they mentioned something about becoming who we are. I can’t remember now exactly what was said, only that it triggered a memory of my own epiphany I had several months before. It was a point when I realized what has kept me in some relationships too long is the idea of trying to get back to the people we were when we first met, when everything was easy.

Except we aren’t those people anymore.

The light bulb moment was realizing every day we wake up we are changing into our new selves. Some days the changes are small, barely noticeable or worth noting. Other days the change takes our breath away. How I see it, we are not the phoenix that arises from the ashes. We did not die, nor burn. Instead, we are like the snake that sheds its old skin in order to give the larger scales a chance to expand even further. It’s like the molecules in our bodies swell with each new piece of information and occasionally our skin gets too tight forcing us to molt so we can continue to grow. We are constantly stretching our skin each time we gain deeper knowledge, awareness and insight. Shedding our old selves allows us to become our new selves.

becoming by raquel

created by sistafriend Raquel

Not who we should be.

But who we are.

For three years I have been looking for a job. Last week I barely evaded an eviction. My phone has been cut off for weeks because I cannot afford to keep it on. My car’s engine light has been on since early December. My dogs really enjoy oatmeal, but not the cheap Quaker Oats brand. For a week the internet at home kept going out and Verizon didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to find a solution. My power cord for the laptop has decided to stop working. And Friday I got yet another rejection and it really pissed me off.

So I did what any other broke ass gym rat would do and took my frustrations out on the weights: 4 rounds of TRX pike planks, toe taps, single leg deadlifts, incline crunches with 14#, deadlifts, cable crunches and hip thrusters. You know you’re ready for a fight when you get a personal best on deadlifts (155#, y’all). What happens when you lift angry is similar to what happens when you run angry, you work through emotions by pounding them into something useful so they don’t sit and fester eating up your insides. And through that process I realized while my professional life might be shit, my personal life ain’t so bad. I reminded myself of what I looked and felt like before I started running. I reminded myself how running and lifting have every day transformed my life in myriad ways. So then I put the pictures side-by-side of the changes my body has gone through, check it out.

transformation

left is from October 2008; middle is from July 2014; right is from April 2016

I’ve gotten stronger physically which does translate into strength mentally. I’ve gotten more involved with the running community. I am learning how to direct and plan big running events. I can run 50 miles at one time. I can plank like a boss. I have abs! I can power hike mountains. Did I mention I can deadlift (and hip thrust) 155#? I started a monthly ladies only trail run called Team ESTRA-GEN. I love working at Fleet Feet and interacting with customers, especially the new runners.

Anyway, my point is perhaps this journey to a real life job has been about becoming who I am, not who I was three years ago when this began. The job that would have fit me back then is not the job that will fit me now. I feel like I’ve shed more than a few layers of skin to become this person I am right now. I am finally beginning to feel like the inside me matches the outside me. I’m 40 years old and right now at this moment I feel the most at home in my skin, in my knowledge of self, than I have in perhaps my entire life.

Contentment. Peacefulness. Acceptance.

These are all adjectives we need to be able to use for ourselves before we can expect them from anyone else.

So maybe, just maybe, that is what this has all been about. The journey of becoming who I am, not who I should be and not who I might be.

But who I am right now, where every day is an adventure.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2016 in meditation, Universe

 

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